Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Seven Score And Ten Years Ago

150 years ago at 4:30 A.M., the battery on Charleston's waterfront opened fire on Fort Sumter. By the end of the war that followed, one in every fifty Americans would be dead and one in every twenty-eight Americans would be a casualty of some sort. More Americans died in this war than in every other war the country has ever had, combined. It's the story of a people standing by the only way their economy worked, slavery, and rising up against their federal government. There's nothing heroic about that Lost Cause, nothing romantic. With the military technology outpacing the outdated military strategy, the battles turned into slaughters. With medicine not anywhere close to where it is today, wounds were not cared for correctly and infection was rampant. The Civil War is interesting because of what it tells us about the way our country struggled to go from a fledgling democracy to an established nation. It's interesting because its repercussions are still being felt in almost anything that happens nationally, from the Tea Party to the idea of a "Real America." It is not romantic.

But, before all of the carnage, the war started in the city that held the first secession convention, one of the most beautiful cities in the country. It started in the harbor in the picture above, in the fort you can see off in the distance.

Watch the full episode. See more Ken Burns.

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